Good morning, Monday. Another chilly gloomy day in NYC. Winter has come. And from the looks of things out here in America, we need to defend ourselves from our very own white walkers, though we're not going to build any kind of wall.
So the last few years or so I've been thinking a lot (really I have) about what it means to be a patriot. Like some of you, I am a child of the 80s, when Reagan was President throughout most of my schooling before college. Full disclosure- I grew up in a very pro Reagan home, and although I know now that he was far from the pinnacle of perfection many Republicans hold him to, I remember very clearly understanding what it meant to be a patriot. Or at least, I thought I did.
Because Reagan did not build walls, in fact, he told the Russians to tear them down. And sure, we grew up fearing a nuclear showdown with said Russians and encountered the era of greed is good, the AIDs crisis, and the war on drugs to name just a few. But during those days, I never, ever doubted that even as a young person, I would throw down for my country no matter what. And then time passed and the Clintons came and I became a reluctant grown up. And having also survived two generations of Bush in the White House, I still very rarely questioned my allegiance. And after 9/11, I stood besides my fellow New Yorkers and felt proud of my country, a country that was attacked on its own shores and somehow, we would defeat an enemy who sought to destroy our way of life and hated us for our lifestyle and freedoms and general American values. But during the years that followed, I became embarrassed by a President who repeatedly seemed the puppet for the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and I felt something different. A sense that being American was shifting into something else, something far more sinister and conservative and Puritanical. The emergence of an enemy within our own country- a Tea Party ethos that felt wrong. Off. Antiquated. It felt to me that this is not who we are, but somehow, this is what we were becoming.
And then Obama became President and yes we could. And for a moment, no they couldn't. I remember his first Inauguration so clearly. I cried. Many cried. It was an amazing day for our country and somehow, hope was restored. And then we all went back to living lives that felt protected- gay marriage passed, women's rights were intact, we had a leader that listened to our music and often read our minds. I felt safe. But did I feel patriotic? Not particularly. Because under Obama I took my freedoms for granted, and I lost track of the fact that there were real threats to our freedom within our own borders. I don't know how but I lost my sense of what it means to be American even though I had a President I actually liked as a human and not just leader of the free world. It's like you don't know how good you have it till it's gone. So cut to now.
It goes without saying that these are dark days. That try our souls. That makes us gasp and wonder how this happened. But out of all of these crazy executive orders that encompass a blatant disregard for process and protocol, we have somehow all become patriots again, in a matter of two weeks. Because Donald Trump ran and won on a platform of patriotism too, but much like he maligns our media, it's fake. Fake patriotism.
Because no true patriot would allow our freedoms to be upended. No true patriot would allow what's happening on immigration. No true patriot would put up a wall of any kind. Because American patriotism involves fighting for freedom. And human rights. And fairness. And huddled masses yearning to breathe free. As an American, I am horrified by Donald Trump. Every day. He is beyond dangerous and seems every bit the madman. And this, this somehow, is our new normal. But guess what else is our new normal? Fighting him. Fighting him every day. Taking to the streets, signing petitions, calling our elected officials. Voicing our dissent over his horrible governance. And somehow, someway, through this dark time, I rediscovered what it means to be a patriot, and it's quite different than this nationalist version Trump keeps putting out there in 140 characters or less, because he's too much of a coward to face the American people and cowers behind social media to push his agenda and distract us from the superstorm he's creating in Washington.
This new patriotism brings out the very best in us, while showing the very worst in him. My grandparents were the children of immigrants, but my parents were born in this country and I was born in this country. There are many of us that don't face the odds of not being able to get back home if we go overseas- so the issue of immigration is one we could very easily ignore if we wanted to. But this weekend you saw us do anything but, because as Americans, we knew that banning Muslims (don't think it's anything but that) or anyone just because of where they were from was wrong. And we immediately mobilized and the ACLU was able to jump in and temporarily put a block on this insanity. Because even though this President talked about giving America back to the people when he was sworn in, he miscalculated the strength of all the people who he was not speaking to. But we heard him, and we continue to hear him, and we're not going to put up with it. Generally, I'm not a fan of Hollywood mixing with Washington, but last night at the SAG Awards, I felt proud of the entertainment industry- speech after speech referenced the cruelty of this President.
And then big business came out and voiced outrage at this weekend's news. Big tech like Google and Facebook, who employ many people from many countries, came out swinging. Google has created a crisis fund to donate to causes like the ACLU to raise 4 million dollars, while AirBnB, a true disrupter in the business space, has announced it will house refugees. And Howard Schultz of Starbucks, whose letter to employees I'm sharing here struck a chord with me, is a testament to how brands are looking to connect and be more than just a cup of coffee, but a whole new version of value add; even though some on my social circles felt it smacked of marketing tactics. I say who cares? We all know brands are in service to consumers in more ways than ever, and that we seek brands that align with our values. So it's not shocking many deleted Uber this weekend in favor of Lyft, who donated a hefty sum to the ACLU as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had many deleting the Uber app because he is on the wrong side of history by showing support for Trump. What's coming to light is that even though many want to stay out of politics, you can't right now. It's just too important and too big and too terrifying. And tomorrow night at 8 pm, he's announcing his pick for the Supreme Court. Get ready, patriots. Because if the first two weeks of the Bannon presidency are any indication, we are in for it. America is at it's very best when we rebel, when we fight, when we stand up for what we believe in. Let's get our country back. Because maybe we didn't all realize how much it means to us. But those days are long gone.
As the news continue to grow more grave from Washington, I have never been prouder to be an American. Because we are at our best when we are fighting tyranny and protecting our freedom and rights. Admittedly, my so called bubble life may have had me forgetting what it means to protect my freedom and fight for the right things, but that bubble has burst and now we're all trying to clean up the mess. This will not end well for Trump. I'm almost sure of that. Because for many of us that went on auto pilot in America for a while, we're not going back there any time soon. So if you've been questioning what it means to be an American in this era of fake patriotism and insipid nationalism/fascism, I've got your answer. Just align and join together and dot every I and cross every T when it comes to taking down this Presidency. I'll be right there with you, because some things, many things really, are worth fighting for. That's what being an American is all about. So don't tell me I'm not a patriot. Or that Meryl Streep is not a patriot. Or that the millions around the country who are putting boots on the ground to fight this madness are not patriots. Whether we live on the coasts or create alliances in the South or the Rust Belt, we will get through this, united we stand and such.
Cause that's what's up this proud to be an American (even with shame and embarrassment for our leadership) kind of Monday in the 212. Yours in true American spirit, with liberty and justice for all. XO